Shifts

May 22, 2007 at 9:32 am (Amanda, Trip 2007)

I have been having a hard time coming up with words to describe what I’ve been experiencing. Saturday and Sunday were spent at Nyumbani. It is an incredibly beautiful place and the work being done there is unparalleled. It’s clear that they have a great deal more monetary support than Shangilia, but because of this, the kids are able to be on ARV medication and have access to health related things that are essential to battle their disease. It’s funny, the first day that we were there, it didn’t even cross my mind that all of the children have HIV, I was just so happy to see them and to be back there. I made a lot of new friends quickly and met up with some old friends from last January. (Nanay, Jane is doing wonderfully… she sang me a beautiful song she wrote, and she says she misses you)

The second day, Sunday, was a really hard day for me. I’m not sure why exactly, perhaps it was partly because it was Samite’s last day, perhaps I was letting my awareness open more to the realities of these children, but despite what it was exactly, there were several times in which I was really just holding myself together moment by moment. amanda-with-boy-on-her-lap.gif

We played “We Are One” for the kids and sang it a few times through , and strangely, it was only until the third time we were singing it through that I almost lost control of my emotions and started crying. I held it together though and was able to get through the song, but now, sitting here writing this, I can’t quite put my finger on what I was feeling…. it was overwhelming. I think that part of it must have been the feeling of real unity with everyone. As corny as our song is, it really embodies so much about what we are doing, where we are, the experience of being with the children, the great lessons we are learning and the real power that music holds. After that moment, i had to step back a little and allow myself some time to regroup so that I could be 100% present with the kids for the rest of the day. We continued to sing, write songs, play guitar, hear the songs the kids had written and dance. I know that all of us at one point or another have these really intense moments where everything we’re experiencing and witnessing just seems to HIT you, and you have to examine it or else the process will not move forward…. but we’re always moving forward…

These days have been utterly exhausting… emotionally more than physically. I think it’s because we are all leaving ourselves so vulnerable and open to accepting things which are normally very far from our every day experiences, such as children dying, poverty in such expansive numbers, children who have been abused, abandoned, neglected, as well as our own privilege. How can we not examine these things? We have to be open to let these things in, and I feel that all of us are… These children did not ask to have this illness or to have parents who abandonded them– the same way we didn’t ask to be born in the US to parents who would be able to support us growing up. What if I had been born in Africa? Or born onto the streets of Manila? We ARE all one. We ARE all connected. The lives of everyone that we meet are lives that could have been ours. It’s a strange world we live in.

Yesterday, we arrived in Amboselli, to take a break and go on Safari. The scenery is breathtaking , Mt. Kilimanjaro, who showed herself to us today is so majestic and mysterious. The animals are phenomenal, and the beauty of everything is almost overwhelming at times. It’s hard to be away from the kids though, and I miss them terribly. I can’t wait until Thursday when we can go back and be with them. (How am I EVER going to leave?) Something exciting though is that we are going to record “We Are One” with the kids singing and maybe a few other songs that we have written— get them involved. It’s so exciting and I can’t wait to do it. All the kids at Nyumbani are so excited and know all the words already and are so thrilled about the idea of recording with us! I can’t wait to play the songs for everyone back home!

Anyway, it has been a mini-adventure each day. Our group is so connected now, and we are all so close. We’re really leaning on one another for support throughout all this, but hearing that friends back home are keeping up with us is so meaningful too! I love you all!!!

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5 Comments

  1. Nanay said,

    My dear one …

    Reading your entry this morning, I was touched in a way that is now familiar … to a great extent because of your increasing sensitivity to the plight of others. And it reminded me of my own Nanay.

    Remember when Edson and I were trying to figure out a title for Tita Erie’s fundraiser? It took a long time and we eventually came up with “One Breath, One Life” after I told him the story about her. How she used to tell me … through a question “Isang ginhawa lang cabay kita?” The words were in her native Kinaray-a and it meant “Are we not of one breath?”

    The question, a rhetorical one, was a most tender expression of her love. One breath, therefore one life. The circle that is the shape of life, with no beginning and no end. A connection that is irrevocable. And irrefutable.

    And so it became clear to Edson and I that we had stumbled on a wonderful way to describe why human rights and the struggle to preserve it exists. We are of one breath. We form the circle that has no beginning or end.

    And when anyone is violated, their self-worth desecrated, their contributions dishonored, their very humanity disregarded, and their dignity stolen from them – everyone else’s is too. In the same token, when any child is abandoned, neglected, abused, their opportunities stolen — when their very lives are threatened by this neglect, abandonment and abuse — everyone else’s is too.

    We need to guard the breath. We cannot be complacent. We need to be vigilant. And aware. And active.

    What happens to the children in an African country thousands of miles away affects ALL OF US in our EVERYDAY.

    Keep writing. Don’t hold back the tears. The children need to see it as much as your glee. They understand it so much better than we ever can. Yes, honor them with your tears.

    I love you.

  2. lisa said,

    You are all living in the moment..
    thank you for these lessons..and share share shout share them with all of us when you return..one world..
    in peace through music and love

    Lisa T

  3. Eadwine said,

    Amanda, this is an incredible entry. I’m reading it over and over, the Babel soundtrack playing behind it.

    Where will this take you…?
    Love,

  4. Jeanne Hardy said,

    Amanda,
    Thank you so much for sharing such intense thoughts & feelings with us. It really gives us a great picture of what all of you are going through. I know you miss the kids but I’m sure it’s good to have a short break to see the beauty of nature & give you energy to be strong for the next week.

  5. Robert said,

    Hi Amanda…your descriptions themselves are as vulnerable as what you apparently have been feeling. The enormity of the giving and receiving…becoming the same thing…is really quite palpable. It isn’t often that the reality of the oneness is available to us. A blessed experience.

    Thank you for sharing and even having the capacity to convey your experience of the deep love.

    Love,
    Robert

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